Most returning students will have noticed some dramatic changes to the Sports Centre, with the obvious one being the fact that the entrance has now moved and is now bedecked with a turnstile entrance. That is just one of the many changes that the Athletic Union and the Sports development team have made and are planning to make over the coming year.
The whole plan for Sports Centre renovation and redevelopment is a three phase affair, beginning with the first phase of building the new sports hall with new locker rooms and a new entrance. The second phase will see the construction of a new gym and a new Strength and Conditioning Suite and then the final phase involves the construction of a new elite tennis centre with four fullsize indoor courts.
Obviously most people will be wondering how much all of this work has cost and as it stands they are on budget and on time with the project. The budget for the whole thing is £14.5m and certainly appears to be well on the way to providing great new resources for the students here.
When finished it will have three times more facilities they had before the work began, whilst both Sports Halls will be available for exams, making it the biggest venue in the University for examinations. The initial centre was constructed over 30 years ago when the student body was only around 3,000. It is now almost 9,000 and the University has high participation levels, with 55-60% of the students having membership of the gym. Therefore the money gone to redeveloping the centre is not only necessary but brings the facilities into the 21st century.
Those of you that have been there will have noticed that the gym is now in the hall previously used for examinations and this is an indicator of how things will be in the new gym, due for completion in September.
The open plan nature of it has drawn some positive reaction from students and with 130 stations planned for the new one, along with brand new equipment, it will cater for the needs of all students. Some criticims has highlighted the lack of privacy that an open plan nature brings however. The placing of rowing machines directly facing the free weights being quite a questionable decision.
Having been there myself and seen all the work that has been done so far, it has an air of professionalism about it and looks far more fit for purpose and appealing. There are no more bare brick walls, with their removal making the whole building seem warmer and a more comfortable place to workout in. The common presence of assistants also makes the Sports Centre seem more organised as the centre can be booked for games and practices more easily. If this is only the beginning, keep your eyes peeled as the rest of the work gets done over the next couple of semesters and make the most of your new Sports Centre. The new Sports Hall will be officially opened with a women’s basketball game between St Andrews and league leaders Robert Gordon in February.